* Re "Martin Sheen Backs 'Ball Bat' to Help Druggies," by George Skelton, Oct. 16: Martin Sheen may know a thing or two about acting, and he may know a thing or two about addiction, but he sure doesn't know anything about the dynamics of a black market. He decries the possible legalization of drugs by saying this will make them more available to kids, but every scintilla of evidence we possess indicates the opposite is true due to the dynamics of the black market.
Let's look at the examples of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and prescription drugs. All of these items can be purchased legally, but with tight restrictions on who can buy them and where they can be sold. Very few black market sources for these items exist when compared to the virtually unlimited black markets for illegal drugs. With alcohol we even have the lessons of Prohibition to call on, an era in which the violent marketing of illegal booze is the stuff of legends.
So, Mr. Sheen, if you truly want to keep drugs out of the hands of children, you will begin following the teachings of history and push for an immediate decriminalization of drug consumption for consenting adults.
If I understood your Oct. 15 editorial, you suggest that crime has had a major drop across the nation, so we should now focus on rehabilitation and stronger gun laws for all citizens plus different laws for drugs. Why not focus on what has arguably gotten us where we are today--even stronger sentences for all crimes--especially those that involve the use of a gun? How about a two-strike penalty?
Most of the experts lament the number of people that we have in jail. Can there really be a denial that there might be a correlation between more criminals in jail and less crime on the streets? Sure, there are other factors to consider, but the math is undeniable--plus-one in jail equals minus-one on the streets. Let's make rehabilitation a separate issue--after our streets are even safer.
Re your editorial and Skelton's column: The federal mandatory sentencing guidelines' impact in the 1990s gave the U.S. the world's highest incarceration rate and 2 million in jail/prison, many for nonviolent drug offenses. Hopefully, California voters realize the individual and social consequences of the above can be mitigated by the passage of Prop. 36, as well as voting either Green or Libertarian (both parties' presidential candidates calling for an end to the political war on drugs). Alcohol, communism, drugs; what's next?